Revolution of Love

Revolution of Love

Do small things with great love.

When It’s Hard to Be Joyful at Easter

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Yesterday it was my turn to write the daily devotion over at Blessed Is She.net. Being Easter Sunday, it was a day of joy and celebration. But what about when you are going through a difficult situation and the arrival of  Easter does not feel like a joyous time?

This past month my heart has been heavy thinking about numerous friends who are enduring difficult situations right now – heavy crosses, illness, the loss of loved ones, etc. I keep thinking back to the past two Easters when Brian was fighting cancer. I distinctly remember being at Mass on Easter morning and just not feeling the joy of Easter. Instead, my heart was heavy with concern about Brian and his health. Lent was not over for us. We had to keep living it for many more months. It was a bittersweet reminder that although Christ has triumphed over death, we are not exempt from the seasons in our lives when we must carry heavy crosses.

This was on my mind when I wrote in the devotion:

Each day God calls us to never be the same. Consider the flowers of spring. They cannot remain in the dark soil forever. They must grow and push their way through the earth to lift their heads to the sun. We, too, grow and push ourselves towards the Son. This is especially true during the moments when we feel suffocated and buried by difficult situations in life. God calls us to turn our eyes back to Him and gaze upon the light of His love. That same love that conquered death, can conquer our fears, doubts and heartache. His love brings new life and gives us the strength to grow and blossom.

(Read the whole devotion here.)

During those dark days, that is where I found my hope – in the light of the Son. It’s easier for me to understand that in retrospect but it is something I must continue to practice with the current smaller crosses of life.

So if you are going through a difficult time and you are not feeling very joyful, don’t be too hard on yourself. Know that Our Lord understands your pain intimately. He himself  cried out, “Father, why have you abandoned me?” Luckily you don’t have to “feel” joyful in order to trust in God. Eventually, the pain lessens and gives way to the peace of knowing that God is holding you close and carrying you when you can no longer walk.

This week I’ll also be especially praying for you and whatever cross you are carrying. If you’d like for me to pray for you by name, feel free to leave a comment or email me. May God give you peace and strength.

With love,

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads or Instagram. 😉


I Am the Handmaid of the Lord

Happy feast of the Annunciation!

It’s been crazy busy and I haven’t posted much here but I have been writing a couple posts for other blogs.  I am excited to be guest posting for Sarah at Fumbling towards Grace while she prepares to move (with three little ones!) Sarah is a sweetheart who has had a rough past but has risen above it and made a new life with her beautiful family. She is a gifted writer and has the ability to open her heart and draw you in as she shares her soul. I just can’t help but love her. 🙂

Here’s a short piece I wrote about Our Lady and following her example of being a handmaid for the Lord.

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When I was younger, and after my reversion to the church, one of my favorite bible scriptures was Luke 1:38. “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” The words touched my heart, especially since at the time I was also struggling with whether or not I was being called to a religious vocation. Part of me thought it was a beautiful and noble calling to be the bride of Christ. The other part of me thought, it’s great as long as God is not calling me, a boy-crazy romantic.

Boy-crazy or not, I went away for a summer-long discernment retreat with a group of lay consecrated women. I figured I’d give it a try (and prove that I was not called to that kind of life.) I went in thinking, “There’s no way,” but a curious thing happened in there. First, the amount of time I spent in prayer really started to soften my hardened heart. I keenly remember having to adjust to the schedule and bell that rung moving us from one activity to another. When the bell tolled, we were to stop what we were doing and move on to the next activity. There was no, “Hold on one sec,” or “Let me just finish this last bit.” Obedience to God was obedience to the rules and schedule. We learned to offer it up and say, “I am the handmaid of the Lord…”

As things would turn out, by the end of the retreat, I did not want to go home. I had never felt so close to God and wanted to offer my life in consecration to Him. However, my spiritual director and my confessor both advised me to return home and take a year off to pray and further discern. I did and during that time I realized I was called to be a wife and mother. But God used that summer to show me how to love and how to give and serve generously.

Fast forward sixteen years and now I am married with four children. I do not live in a monastery but our home is a little domestic church. I do not have a bell ringing, telling me to move from one activity to the next but I do have little ones that constantly interrupt my “plans.” Whether it is a sick child that needs attention or milk that spilled all over the counter or a bathroom accident that needs to be cleaned, there is a constant stream of opportunities for me to die to self and say, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

I wish I could say that I have learned to kiss the cross and offer my sacrifice with love but all too often the cross is met with a deep sigh and my muttering, “Seriously, Lord? Again?” Yeah, I have far to go but at least I am on the right road and God’s mercy is always there to pick me up and get me going again.”

So on this feast of the annunciation, let’s renew our commitment to follow Mary’s example and say yes to God in whatever He asks of us.

This post first appeared at Fumbling towards Grace.

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, GoodReads, Letterboxd, or Spotify, 😉

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In other words, if you click on my affiliated links and make a purchase, I get a small compensation that goes towards keeping the blog online. Big hugs to those who click and help support the blog! xoxo 🙂

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Register for the Catholic Conference for 4Moms & A Coupon Code for Purchases!

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As I mentioned last week, I am excited to participate in the upcoming Catholic Conference 4Moms. There are so many great speakers and various topics, there is certain to be something to touch your heart!.

Here is how it works:

Every day during the conference, Friday, March 6- Monday,March 9, you will have access to 5-6 talks, just as if you were at a live conference. This link will come via email. What’s different is that you can choose which talks you want to watch or listen to and when you you want to do it.  Early morning? Wonderful.  Nap time?  Great.  Before bed?  Super.  Car line?  Fine, as long as you don’t try to watch while driving!

I love that! I have tried to do webinars in the past but it is difficult to commit to be at a certain place at a certain time with my busy schedule. This is different since I can listen anytime of the day.

I also LOVE that the conference is FREE! However, you do have the opportunity to dig deeper and to hear all the other talks you missed.

After the conference is over, it will all be available for purchase for one low price of  $39.99  This will include online access to all the videos, as well as a download of every video presentation.  And besides all of this, there will also be bonus downloads, PDFs, discussion questions, ebooks, and other goodies.

The hope is that with this package you not only can enjoy the conference again at your own convenience, but you can also share the conference with other moms, perhaps in a support group setting or just over tea. Each presentation in the conference package will include discussion questions.

Since Revolution of Love Blog is an affiliate of the conference, once the conference is over and available for purchase, I will have a coupon code for you to use to get $10 off the Conference Package price. Yay! (Update: The code is “Revolution.”)

This is the last day to sign up!! And it is free! Register here.

The conference will start tomorrow. I’ll “see” you there! 🙂

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UPDATE: You can now purchase the Catholic Conference 4 Moms Package! The price is $39.99 but if you use the code “REVOLUTION” you get $10 off! For more details or to order click here – http://www.catholicconference4moms.com.

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads or Instagram. 😉

PPS – This post contains affiliate links.


Create in Me A Clean Heart: My Lenten Goals 2015

Happy Ash Wednesday! I already posted about things we will be doing as a family for Lent but I haven’t shared what I’ll be doing. To be honest with you, I usually don’t buckle down until a couple weeks into Lent but I want to break that cycle!

I went to the morning Mass at the kids’ school and the theme of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving has been on my mind. How can I apply that to my busy mommy life?

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Prayer

Prayer is what I need the most now, especially with the stress our family has been under lately. I am still having trouble being less like Martha and more like Mary. But Lent is the perfect time to get serious about making improvements.

My prayer plan is pretty much already in place. I have my Blessed Is She prayer journal and I joined Elizabeth Foss’ online workshop Restore. I’ve got the tools now all I have to do is make sure that I USE them in more than just a pretty photo! I arranged my schedule so I could have 15-20 minutes in the morning to pray. Then in the evening after the kids go to bed, I’ll spend 20 – 30 minutes on the workshop. I did it last year and it was sometimes hard to carve out time and I was always behind the scheduled days, but it made a huge difference in helping me get through a difficult season of life with Brian’s cancer.

Fasting

In order to accomplish the prayer time for Lent, I need to cut back on screen time – the computer/ phone in the morning and TV at night. I’m not going dark like some friends, but there will be some black out stretches during the day. I’m hoping the increased prayer will also help me to fast from impatience. In the morning of this holy Ash Wednesday I was yelling at one of my kids to stop fooling around and get their school shoes on. That is a logical request but yelling it like a lunatic is not the same as saying it like a sane parent. I could hear God whispering to me, “Yeah, you see that there? That’s what you need to give up for Lent.” Oh, man. I think it would be easier to give up the chocolate.

Almsgiving

This one was a no brainer because since Christmas I have been walking around the house, stepping over toys and moving piles of junk from one corner to the next saying, “Ugh! We have too much stuff!” So it’s time for the annual 40 bags in 40 days. We’ll be sharing our possessions with friends or St. Vincent de Paul. I would really like it if I could also get back to my 31 Day to Clean: Having A Martha House the Mary Way cleaning challenge. I started it a month ago but when Brian’s dad had the stroke, my normal routine went out the window and I put it aside.

Revolution of Love Blog - lent_psalm_51I share these things with you, not to brag or “blow a trumpet.” Quite the opposite, I know my weakness. I am prone to start strong then give it up. I want to hold myself accountable. By sharing this with you, I know you will be there to offer encouragement when I am feeling discouraged and there to give a swift kick in the rear when I am being a stubborn brat. I know there are some moms that spend Lent like John the Baptist with a locust snack. I look at them and think, “Damn, girl! How do you do that?!” I’m still working on things like… not saying, “damn.”

We are all on different paths and at different levels.  Some of you can accomplish a lot. Some of you forgot today was Ash Wednesday. Some of you don’t need to give up anything because you are living Lent in your current family situation. However, all of us are seeking to cross the same finish line. We want to grow closer to God and love Jesus more at the end of this Lent. So to you, my fellow sisters, let’s take this journey together and encourage one another.

Is there something you want to work on this Lent? Do you have a special intention you’d like me to pray for during Lent? Do share. (And say a prayer for me too.) 🙂

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads, Letterboxd or Instagram. 😉


Pinterest Party & Link-up (vol 35): The Lent Edition

Revolution of Love Blog - pinterest_lentWelcome to the RoL Pinterest Party. Normally we would link up and share how we made, cooked, baked, crafted, planned, organized, followed or created one of the pins on our Pinterest boards OR share something original that others can pin onto their boards.

This month we will be sharing our Lenten and Easter crafts, ideas, meatless recipes, posts and reflections.

Not on Pinterest? No problem. Link-up your own creation to inspire us so we can pin in to our own boards.

Don’t have a post ready? The link-up will be open until Easter Sunday so there’s plenty of time. Plus, feel free to link up a new post or an older post that hasn’t had much traffic lately. 🙂

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It’s hard to believe that Lent starts in a couple weeks! I saved all my items from last year and I actually remember where I stored them so I’m ahead of the game. 😉

I have been wanting to incorporate learning about the saints with the kids and I thought Lent would be a good time to start.

happy_saints_1I purchased the Happy Saint flashcards and I thought they’d be perfect for a simple introduction.

revolution of love blog - happy_saint_2Each week we will take one saint, read about them, and ask for their intercession that week. Week 1 we will start with A for St. Agnes.

happy_saints_WayCoverI’d also like to order the Happy Saints Way of the  Cross.

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As for our other Lenten activities, we’ll be doing some of our usual family traditions. I am reposting them here for new readers.

I love putting wreaths and welcome signs on our door. For Lent, I made a simple Lenten wreath to mark the season.

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We have our regular family altar in the entryway of the house and that stays pretty much the same all year. However, we have a shelf in the family room by the table where we eat that we decorate according to the season. Here is where we keep our Lenten things.

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We set up a candle centerpiece using a long rectangular tray filled with six votive candles for the six weeks of Lent.

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I purchased tiny wreaths from Michael’s that fit around the candle. We add a wreath to a candle on each Sunday of Lent.

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We printed off Catholic Icing’s Lenten Calendar and I placed it in an inexpensive frame from Ikea. I use a dry erase pen to mark a cross on each day as it passes. It is great for the kids, who have no sense of time, to see how many more days until Easter.

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One of the kids favorite activities for Lent is their Act of Love and Prayer jars. The Act of Love jar has different things they can do each day such as share a toy with your sibling or be extra nice to someone at school or do an extra chore. The Prayer Jar has a special intention for each day. With our evening schedules, we have found our best prayer time to be before dinner since we are already gathered together. Since the altar is right next to our table, we light our candle, Brian leads us in prayer and then we chose an act and prayer intention for the next day. (The morning of the following day I remind the kids what our act of love and prayer intention is for that day.)

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This year we also added Kendra’s idea of using Sacrifice Beans. Every time the kids complete one of their Acts of Love or makes a sacrifice they put a dried kidney bean in the bowl. On Easter Sunday the dry beans are changed to jelly beans or some other treat. (I’m thinking a visit to the library or the Aquarium.)

UPDATE: Last year, this was the kids’ favorite activity. They loved collecting those beans!

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In case you think we are a holy family with heads bent in prayer, let me also give you a dose of reality. I also had to add a “prayer helper” of the day sign. When it comes to who gets to offer their prayer intention first or who gets to blow out the candle or who gets to choose the Act of Love that day, we have had the boys literally come to blows and screaming, which ends in me yelling at them and Brian sending them to their rooms for misbehaving. (Aw, peaceful prayer time.) Since they are used to having a “Student of the Day” in school so we took that same concept with the “prayer helper of the day.” The name rotates and we have greatly reduced the yelling and body blows. (Now if we can just get John-Paul to stop praying for things like “more Star Wars toys” as his prayer intention. 😉

Lastly we added our Stations of the Cross pictures to the altar. If we say the Stations of the Cross as a family, we follow this book The Way of the Cross from Magnificat/Ignatius. (Reality check: we actually have yet to do the stations. We’ll try again this year to do it at least once…)

 

Here are some other Lenten activities we will be doing as a family.

  • Turn off the TV and the computer/iphone more. I have a basket of religious type books that the kids can look at or we can read together. I am also using the Lenten Adventure Activity Books from Holy Heroes, which are great! There are activity pages and coloring pages for the young ones for each day of Lent up until Divine Mercy Sunday.
  • Visit Jesus – Make more visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Let the kids light a candle before they kneel and pray.
  • Donate – Spring clean the toy box and donate toys they don’t use anymore to our local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.
  • Crafts – Make Lenten crafts such as one of these Resurrection Crafts. (Reality check: Yeah, this never happened last year. I’m not sure if we’ll do it this year but I’ll leave the link for you more creative moms. 😉 )

For more ideas for your own family, check out these sites.

My final note – Don’t let the sheer number of activities available overwhelm you! Chose just one (or maybe two) things that your family can realistically do. It is better to do something simple and well, than to try to do too much and feel like a failure because you couldn’t possibly get it all done! (Believe me, I’ve learned that the hard way!)

Okay, that was my idea for the month. You can find me on Pinterest here – http://www.pinterest.com/rol_bobbi.

Does your family have a favorite Lenten tradition? A favorite meatless meal? Maybe you wrote a reflection about Lent. If you have a blog, link-up! If you don’t blog, share in the comments. We’d love to hear from you. 🙂

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Now it’s your turn!

1. Choose your creation, recipe or Lent/Easter related post and snap a photo if you can.

2. In your post, link back the original blogger/idea, rather than your Pinterest pin. That way credit goes to the proper person. 🙂 (But feel free to add your Pinterest profile link so we can follow you!)

3. Add a link back here so others can play along.

4. If you want to use it, here is the html code for the logo:

<a href=”http://www.revolutionoflove.com/blog/?p=2157″><img title=”Revolution of Love Blog – Pinterest Party & Link-up” src=”http://www.revolutionoflove.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/pinterest_2_medW32-300×240.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”240″ /></a>

5. Link up below. Make sure you’re sending us to your actual post, and not to your general blog address.

The link up will be active until Easter Sunday. Have fun!

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads, Letterboxd or Instagram. 😉

PPS – This post may contain affiliate links.